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For example, the first weekend in June saw 150 record highs in the Midwest, but a cold front moved through and dropped temperatures to near-record lows immediately afterward. Coastal areas of South Carolina and Georgia were praying for a cool-down last week, after recording triple-digit temperatures. Meanwhile, the Northeast was enjoying above-normal temperatures before a chill caused frost warnings and advisories to be issued in the region. In the West, portions of Colorado witnessed a 30-degree temperature drop in one day.
Such temperature variations tend to drive people crazy — especially those in the HVACR trade, who depend on “predictable” weather.
Maybe you pay attention to the Farmer’s Almanac (www.almanac.com), which bases its forecasts on a “secret formula.” Then again, you may favor the more scientific approach from the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center (www.nws.noaa.gov), which updates its forecasts every month. Or, maybe you don’t depend on either for projecting business trends over the summer months — but it is interesting to know what might happen this summer, isn’t it?
“Long range to us is not more than a week,” said Mitchell Cropp of Cropp-Metcalfe Air Conditioning-Heating-Security, Fairfax, VA. “We try to offer year-round service and products and not wait for the weather spikes.”
“I pay attention to long-range weather forecasts,” added Bob Boyle of Phillips Heating & AC Co., Pittsburgh, PA. “We hate to depend on bad weather to drive our business and plan for work all year. However, we know that certain times of the year provide the weather needed to boost our business.”
THE PREDICITIONSFor this summer, here are the predicted “above-normal” regions of the U.S.
Here are the predicted “below normal” regions of the U.S. as described by the Farmer’s Almanac. (The National Weather Service did not list any regions in this category.)
If weather predictions are accurate, it appears the upper Northwest and upper Northeast areas of the United States would not be the places to expect a lot of air conditioning service calls. The remaining regions of the country not mentioned above have predictions for “near normal” temperatures.
If you combine both predictions for “above normal” temperatures, one might consider relocating an a/c service department to Alabama, Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Texas, and Virginia; not to mention portions of California, Nebraska, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee.
But one contractor, a Texan, said that weather should not matter.
“Long-range forecasts have less to do with our success than does executing our business plan,” said George Frymire of Frymire Engineering Co. Inc. Dallas, TX. “We market aggressively to our residential customers to smooth the weather-induced peaks and valleys.
“That’s important, especially for slow-to-start seasons such as this one.”
SERVICE AGREEMENTSOne of the main reasons why contractors lessen their dependency on weather conditions is service agreements, which must be fulfilled at all times of the year, regardless of the temperatures.
“We try not to depend on weather spikes because we have built our business on service agreement customers,” said Cropp.
“Primarily, we try to complete preventive maintenance calls and yearly clean-and-checks in the off-season so that we are able to handle the peak weather related calls,” he said.
Chris Colditz of Laco Mechanical Services Inc., Palatine, IL, said that her company has a small staff right now and she tries to “even out our work.” She added, “We are running with less men, so prevention and maintenance are our game.
“We do watch the long-range forecasts, but only to see what might be in store.”
If you are interested in daily forecasts for your area, you can log on to www.theweatherchannel.com and sign up for daily “In Box” e-mail weather alerts.
Publication date: 06/10/2002